Washington Grown

A unique method for sharing agriculture’s story

Published online: Nov 03, 2017 Articles
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This article appears in the November 2017 issue of Potato Grower.

Six years ago, the entire Washington State potato industry came together for a long-range planning summit at the historic Davenport Hotel in downtown Spokane. In the room were growers, processors, crop consultants, input suppliers, researchers, fresh packers and water managers. The group boldly decided to make potato promotions a second priority and telling the agriculture story to the public our No. 1 priority. A common theme was shared by all in the room that day: “We’re going to be regulated out of business if we keep letting others tell our story for us.” Out of this discussion was born Washington Grown.

Washington Grown is an agriculture-based TV show disguised as a food show. Each episode features a popular chef showing the viewers how to cook up one of Washington’s many great crops. Then it tells the story of what it took for farmers to get this food to their viewers’ plates: how they planted it, cared for it, and harvested the bounty. The show highlights the heritage, technology and stewardship of the land by all these great growers.

The show is in its fifth season as it highlights many of the 300 different crops grown in Washington. The Washington State Potato Commission (WSPC) is the executive producer of the show, so it’s only natural that viewers are going to see episodes each season devoted to America’s favorite vegetable. We’ve featured frozen process growers, fresh growers, dehydrated potatoes, seed potatoes, reds, russets, yellows, purples, fingerlings, IPM strategies, water conservation, recipes, nutrition, chips, organic, conventional operations, exports, economic value, breeding, pesticide use, GMOs and labor issues.

One of the challenges in producing the show each year is funding. The WSPC provides the leadership role in devoting consistent resources to the show, but there are many other agricultural groups that contribute. These funding partners range from the Washington Apple Commission to the Washington State Wine Commission and many in between. Even the trade association for the state’s restaurants is a contributing member. The Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA) specialty crop block grants came through for Season 5 and next year’s Season 6. The WSDA has been a great partner and utilizes our show and its video footage for their own educational efforts. Many ag groups have also utilized the high-quality footage for their own websites and in their own promotional materials. Despite the potato growers’ ownership of the program, they have never restricted its use or distribution. Their vision is to share these stories with anyone willing to listen. 

Three years ago, Washington Grown received a prestigious Telly Award. Last year it won an even more prestigious Emmy. This award-winning program is getting the ag story out to the public in a fun and informative way. It helps connect the food people eat to the farmers who produce it. Consumers are eager to know more about the food they eat and where it comes from. Washington Grown is seen by over 50,000 people each week.

Washington Grown can be viewed each week on the ABC affiliates in Seattle, Yakima and Pasco, Wash., and Lewiston, Idaho. It can also be seen on PBS in all of eastern Washington. All 65 episodes can be viewed at www.wagrown.com.

Promoting our industry and telling the agriculture story needs to be part of the cost of doing business for every ag firm and farm. If we don’t tell our story, someone else will. 

Look for more on Washington Grown in our January issue.